Maryland Pet

Keeping your Guinea Pig on a Healthy Diet

If you are looking for a family pet for the first time, then there are a variety of different animals to choose from. Cats and dogs are the most obvious choice, but they do require a level of dedication and responsibility. One very popular alternative is a guinea pig. These little animals are perfect first time pets and are very easy to care for and look after.  They are perfect around children and are very playful. When they are happy, they can be heard purring like cats. When they are excited they like to run about and jump up. They are very charismatic and social and lots of fun to be around.

Though keeping a guinea pig for a pet is a lot easier than a dog, where you’d need to take it for regular walks and exercise every day, you will need to be careful with how you feed them. There are lots of websites that you can visit where people ask all types of food related questions for guinea pigs such as “can guinea pigs eat cilantro” or “why doesn’t my guinea pig like bananas”.  If you are planning on getting a guinea pig as a pet, then it’s very important to be aware of what they can and should not eat. Some foods are actually very toxic for them and must be completely avoided. 

Hay and Grass

The bulk of your guinea pigs diet should consist of hay and grass. This will help their digestion and also promotes the growing of healthy teeth.  There are different types available, so you need to know which one is best for your pet. For baby guinea pigs, the best type of hay is Alfalfa, which is high in calcium.  As your pet grows older, you will want to reduce their intake of calcium, as it could lead to health issues. The best type of hay for adult guinea pigs, who can live for between 4-7 years, is Timothy hay, which is high in fiber and low in calcium.

Pellet Food

Pellets are an important part of the diet of your guinea pig and through it they will receive the necessary levels of minerals and vitamins to grow and stay healthy. Vitamin C is very important for guinea pigs, and pellets are able to supply this to them.  The average daily intake of pellets should be around 1/8 of a cup, along with some hay and fresh vegetables. This should equate to about 10-20 grams each day, but is advisable to split this amount over two separate feedings, rather than all in one go.  It is very important to note that pellets should not be a substitute for fresh hay – it should be served with it. The health of your guinea pig will be harmed without their daily intake of high quality hay.

Fruit and Vegetables

You should feed your guinea pigs a variety of different fruit and vegetables each week. Vegetables that are high in vitamin C include cabbage and asparagus, though both should be fed in small doses and not everyday.  Other vegetables include carrots, which guinea pigs love, but only feed them these occasionally as they contain sugar which could lead to health problems in the future. Broccoli can be offered occasionally to your pet, as it is high in vitamin A, but it does cause gas, so limit this to once a month or so.  Fruits that you can occasionally feed your guinea pig include apples, grapes and melon. These should be finely diced and served in small amounts to your pet a few times each week. 

Herbs

In addition to fruit and vegetables you can also feed your guinea pig a variety of different herbs. As with humans, different guinea pigs will have different preferences when it comes to their food, and herbs are no exception.  You could feed herbs such as parsley, thyme, dill, basel, fennel and mint to your pets, but make sure you feed them a herb that they actually enjoy. If you noticed that the parsley that you put down for them is untouched, then it’s more than likely that they don’t enjoy eating it, and would probably prefer something else.

What to avoid feeding them

When feeding your guinea pig, you should be aware that there are several things that you should not feed them. In addition to the obvious such as bread, sweets and meat, there are other things such as animal byproducts, salty foods and vegetables that can cause gas.  Other things to avoid include spinach, iceberg lettuce, cauliflower, kale, raisins and beans. If you are unsure about anything, it is a good idea to speak to a member of staff at your local pet store, or even pop online and do a little research. There is a wealth of information online that can help with lots of questions you might have.

Whatever type of pet you plan to get, it is always a great idea to take a look at some of your local animal shelters. You might find the ideal pet for your family just waiting there for you.

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